I first visited the Philippines in 1989 and it changed my perspective on life, much as Finland had done eight years before. The first literary manifestation was a short story, “Juanita”, which I published in 1998. The following year I went back to Manila and Cebu, to research what I had decided was to be my next novel.
As so often happens, life intervened. I got very ill, which provided a useful idea for a twist in the plot (an example of how writers will ruthlessly exploit every piece of material they have at their disposal, with their own lives being the most readily available source). Things started well: the opening chapter won a couple of competitions (see “Queen of the Islands” in the menu on the right to read it). Yet as a great writer famously said, every book has a beginning, a muddle and an end. I had a good beginning, not a bad end… and a ghastly muddle in the middle.
All authors have a drawer full of rejection slips and the ones I collected for “The Happy Dancer” eventually convinced me of what I already knew in my heart: the book needed a total overhaul that I wasn’t in the right state to undertake. So it went into the drawer along with those slips and stayed there for nearly a decade. Now, with sufficient distance, I am starting to rework it: and we’ll see how it goes.